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2 Cit. Think you so? Which way, do you judge, my wit would fly?
3 Cit. Nay, your wit will not so soon out as another man's will, 'tis strongly wedged up in a blockhead; but if it were at liberty, 'twould, sure, southward.
2 Cit. Why that way?
3 Cit. To lose itself in a fog; where being three parts melted away with rotten dews, the fourth would return for conscience sake, to help to get thee a wife. 2 Cit. You are never without
tricks :-You may, you may5. 3 Cit. Are
you all resolved to give your voices ? But that's no matter, the greater part carries it. I say, if he would incline to the people, there was never a worthier man,
Enter CORIOLANUS and MENENIUS. Here he comes, and in the gown
of humility; mark his behaviour. We are not to stay all together, but to come by him where he stands, by ones, by twos, and by threes. He's to make his requests by particulars: wherein every one of us has a single honour, in giving him our own voices with our own tongues: therefore follow me, and I'll direct you
you shall go by him. All. Content, content.
[Exeunt. Men. O sir, you are not right: have you not known The worthiest men have done it?
ment to go all one way should end in their flying to every point of the compass,
a just description of the variety and inconsistency of the many-headed multitude.
5 The force of this colloquial phrase appears to be, '' You may divert yourself as you please at my expense.' It occurs again in Troilus and Cressida :
Hel. By my troth, sweet lord, thou hast a fine forehead.
What must I say?I pray, sir,---Plague upon't! I cannot bring My tongue to such a pace :
-Look, sir ;
-my wounds! I got them in my country's service, when Some certain of your brethren roar’d, and ran From the noise of our own drums. Men.
O me, the gods ! You must not speak of that; you must desire them To think upon you. Cor.
Think upon me? Hang 'em! I would they would forget me, like the virtues Which our divines lose by them. Men.
You'll mar all; I'll leave you: Pray you, speak to them, I pray you, In wholesome manner7.
Enter two Citizens.
Bid them wash their faces, And keep their teeth clean.—So, here comes a brace. You know the cause, sir, of my standing here.
1 Cit. We do, sir; tell us what hath brought
Cor. Mine own desert.
Your own desert?
Ay, not Mine own desire. 1 Cit.
How! not your own desire ?
6. I wish they would forget me, as they do the virtaous precepts which our divines preach to them. This is another amusing instance of anachronism.
? So in Hamlet:— If it shall please you to make me a whole
1 Cit. You must think, if we give you any thing, We hope to gain by you. Cor. Well then, I pray, your price o’the consul
ship? 1 Cit. The price is, sir, to ask it kindly. Cor.
Kindly? let me ha't: I have wounds to show you, Which shall be yours in private.—Your good voice,
Sir, I pray
2 Cit. You shall have it, worthy sir.
Cor. A match, sir:
But this is something odd. 2 Cit. An 'twere to give again,-But 'tis no matter.
[Exeunt two Citizens
Enter two other Citizens. Cor. Pray you now, if it may stand with the tune of your voices, that I may be consul, I have here the customary gown.
3 Cit. You have deserved nobly of your country, and you have not deserved nobly.
Cor. Your enigma ?
3 Cit. You have been a scourge to her enemies, you have been a rod to her friends; you have not, indeed, loved the common people.
Cor. You should account me the more virtuous, that I have not been common in my love. I will, sir, flatter my sworn brother the people, to earn a dearer estimation of them; 'tis a condition they account gentle: and since the wisdom of their choice is rather to have my hat than my heart, I will practise the insinuating nod, and be off to them most counterfeitly: that is, sir, I will counterfeit the bewitchment of some popular man, and give it bountifully to the desirers. Therefore, beseech you, I may be consul.
4 Cit. We hope to find you our friend; and therefore give you our voices heartily.
3 Cit. You have received many wounds for your country.
Cor. I will not seal 8 your knowledge with showing them. I will make much of your voices, and so trouble you no further. Both Cit. The gods give you joy, sir, heartily!
[Ereunt. Cor. Most sweet voices ! Better it is to die, better to starve, Than crave the hire which first we do deserve. Why in this wolvish gown should I stand here, To beg of Hob and Dick 10, that do appear, Their needless vouches ? Custom calls me to't:What custom wills, in all things should we do't,
8 I will not strengthen or complete your knowledge. The seal is that which ratifies or completes a writing.
9 Thus the second folio. The first folio reads : woolvish tongue,' apparently an error of the press for toge: the same mistake having occurred in Othello, where ' tongued consuls' is printed for toged consuls. By a wolvish gown Coriolanus means a deceitful one ; in allusion to the fable of the wolf in sheep's clothing: not that he means to call himself the wolf, but merely to say, Why should I stand here playing the hypocrite, and simulating the humility that is not in my nature. Or, as Shakspeare expresses it in All's Well that Ends Well:--. To wear the surplice of humility over the black gown of a big heart.' Brutas afterwards says :
With a proud heart he wore His humble weeds.' 10 The poet has here given the names (as in many other places he has attributed the customs) of England to ancient Rome. Hob and Dick were names of frequent occurrence among the common people in Shakspeare's time, and generally used to signify a peasant or low person.
The dust on antique time would lie unswept,
Enter three other Citizens.
voices I have fought; Watch'd for your voices; for your voices, bear Of wounds two dozen odd; battles thrice six I have seen, and heard of; for your voices, have Done many things, some less, some more : your
voices : Indeed, I would be consul.
5 Cit. He has done nobly, and cannot go without any
honest man's voice. 6 Cit. Therefore let him be consul: The gods give him joy, and make him good friend to the people !
All. Amen, Amen. God save thee, noble consul! Exeunt Citizens. Cor.
Is this done? Sic. The custom of request you have discharg’d: 11 Dr. Farmer says, perhaps we should read :
battles thrice six
have heard of; for your voices Done many things,' &c. Coriolanus seeming now in earnest to petition for the consulate.